Conference: Performance, a new fashion challenge

The impact and influence that sports brands and high-performance fabrics have on the fashion world is clear. So how do we expand the crossover zone between these two worlds and rethink fashion to meet the needs of future consumers?

This was the focus of the “Performance, the Challenge in Fashion” conference (Wednesday 18 September, 3:30/4:30 pm, Fashion Talks Area, Hall 6), where Jason Israel, Global Creative Design Director at The North Face, and Eric Yung, International Vice-President of Polartec, discussed the ever-shifting boundaries between sports and city fashions.

“Tracking user requirements and feedback is an indispensable step not only in the validation process of The North Face products, but also in their design,” noted Jason Israel. For example, by listening to the needs of top aerobatic athletes, the brand decided to launch a research initiative aimed at a top-to-bottom, yarn-to-membrane reinvention of a range of mountain-sports gear, to develop versatile garments with climatic insulation and optimal comfort in any situation, and the least environmental impact possible. The resulting Summit Series collection is naturally aimed at athletes, but also captures millennials’ growing appetite for adaptable and multi-tasking outdoorwear solutions.

In the race to find the textile solutions of the future, collaborations between sportswear brands and high-tech fabric specialists are inevitable. Eric Yung, International Vice President of the leader in thermal fabrics, Polartec, confirmed this trend, pointing out that the development of multi-purpose and versatile fabrics represents a paradigm shift in the fashion world. Combining style and performance has now become a priority for both fabric producers and brands, driving a new field of casual tech whose rules and standards remain to be defined.


To broaden applications for its technical fabrics, Polartec has, since 2016, been promoting the Polartec Apex Awards, annual prizes for creativity and design recognising the most inspiring products made with the brand’s fabrics. From chic urban jackets (Thermal Pro Coat by LC23) in which Thermal Pro® fibre discreetly provides optimal climate insulation, to complete biking outfits (Full Cycling Kit by Santini) combining Power WoolTM, Power Shield® Pro and Alpha® fibres for unprecedented performance and comfort, the prize winners are an ideal reflection of the unlimited possibilities of performance fabrics and fibres across all segments of the textile industry.

“It’s time to defy convention and set a new standard,” proclaims The North Face’s presentation teaser.  Now it’s the designers’ turn.


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